Kodak gives Colorama archive of panoramic pictures to NY’s George Eastman photography museum

Friday, June 11, 2010

Kodak donates Colorama collection to photo museum

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Eastman Kodak Co. is turning over its archive of panoramic Colorama images to a hometown photography museum in upstate New York where its founder lived.

George Eastman House said Friday the collection includes original negatives and prints of all 565 gigantic Coloramas displayed in New York’s Grand Central Terminal from 1950 to 1990.

Those backlit transparencies, promoted by Kodak as the “world’s largest photographs,” measured 60 feet long by 18 feet high. New elongated images were installed every three weeks, depicting landscapes, sporting events and family celebrations and vacations.

The images “reflected and reinforced American values and aspirations while encouraging picture-taking as an essential aspect of leisure, travel and family,” said Alison Nordstrom, curator of photographs at Eastman House.

“The Coloramas taught us not only what to photograph, but how to see the world as though it were a photograph,” she said. “They served to manifest and visualize values that even then were misunderstood as nostalgic and in jeopardy, salvageable only through the time-defying alchemy of Kodak cameras and film.”

Eastman House is a landmark Colonial Revival mansion in Rochester that was home to film and photo pioneer George Eastman, Kodak’s founder.

Turned into a film and photography museum in 1947, it will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Kodak Colorama with a four-month exhibition that opens June 19. The exhibition featuring three dozen Coloramas will then embark on an international tour. The lineup of venues has not yet been decided.

Steve Kelly, a professional photographer for Kodak who created several Coloramas, called them “Kodak Moments of the highest order.”

“We at Kodak are proud to have them reside at the home of our founder so that the public can once again experience the magnificence of these images,” Kelly said.

Aside from its collection of more than 400,000 highly valued photographs, Eastman House is one of the nation’s four major motion picture archives with more than 30,000 titles. Its treasures include the archives of filmmakers Cecil B. DeMille, Kathryn Bigelow, Spike Lee, Ken Burns and Martin Scorsese.

Technicolor, the color-movie pioneer synonymous with Hollywood glamour, announced in March it was donating its filmmaking artifacts to Eastman House to round out the museum’s trove of original reels of movie classics such as “Gone with the Wind” and “The Wizard of Oz.”

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